Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Tue Sep 18 17:59:18 UTC 2001

On Mon, 17 Sep 2001, L oki wrote:

> As an amateur without academic credentials, I've been very hesitant to
> comment on a person who is apparently a noted authority, but frankly I
> have been annoyed with Mr. Popik's voluminous and seemingly immaterial
> comments on such things as foreign terms not included in OED, imagined
> personal slights from people with better things to do, and long-winded
> excerpts from ephemera whose ephemeral status is well-deserved.
> There have been some gems in his material, but not enough to warrant the
> dreck he has produced, and his flippancy towards the recent disaster was
> the final straw.

Barry is an "amateur" in that he operates outside the academic world and
does his researches without compensation.  His work, however, is of such
brilliance that he is nonetheless a noted authority on slang and food
words and other areas of American vocabulary.  He fits into a long
tradition of amateur historical-lexicographical researchers, people like
Marghanita Laski, W. C. Minor, Albert Matthews, Peter Tamony, etc. who
have done more to advance historical-lexicographical scholarship than
almost any academic.

I sometimes find Barry's messages to be difficult reading because there is
a high noise-to-signal ratio and a lot of attacks on ADS members (not just
William Safire -- isn't Sol Steinmetz a respected ADS member?) and people
who are not ADS members.  But, as others have pointed out, one can use the
delete key to skip all of Barry's messages, as I am sure many people on
this list do.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Public Services     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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